Review Summary: For those who long for new Metallica or Pantera material
Try to imagine Master of Puppets
-era Metallica having sex with Far Beyond Driven
-era Pantera. If you can do that, you’ll know what Lazarus A.D. sounds like. For those of you who have a little less colorful imagination, Lazarus A.D. is a young metal band that conveniently falls somewhere between the grooves of Pantera and the mid-paced thrashing of Kreator. Because of that, it is more or less a given that Black Rivers Flow
is a good album, but regrettably, not a one that’ll amaze the listener.
The problem with the album is that it sounds like it’s at least a decade late. As far as the musical side goes, there isn't much I can fault these boys from Wisconsin for, besides being way too predictable, because the instruments themselves are well played-out. Just, there isn’t a single surprising moment to be found on the cd. The time signatures reek of Metallica, the verses are mostly composed of standard fare groove riffs, and the choruses are predictably catchy and soaring. Even the solos, which are well-executed by the way, sound unremarkable in the overall context (if we exclude the closer, "Eternal Vengeance"), despite the skillful delivery. Everything here just sounds way too similar to what bands like Metallica, Pantera, Anthrax and Kreator did years and years before Lazarus A.D.. And while throwback records are cool when done right, Black Rivers Flow
feels more left behind than throwback.
But don’t make up your mind beforehand just yet, because in the end, it’s only the music that counts, and there are some tracks here that do stand out very well. The sad part, though, is that almost every good track is followed by an unremarkable one, which isn’t something you wish to see on a 9-track CD. For example, Black Rivers Flow
starts out very well with "American Dreams" and "The Ultimate Sacrifice", which are both great tracks, the former being like a heavier Anthrax song and the latter being straight out of the pages of Pantera. But just as Lazarus seemingly settle into a groove, "The Strong Prevail" comes along - a song so incredibly dull I'm lost for words for it. This trend continues throughout the rest of the album, with the title track being great, "Casting Forward" and "Light A City (Up In Smoke)" being rather run of the mill, "Through Your Eyes" being solid again etc.
Ultimately, besides the somewhat dated feeling, that’s my main gripe with Black Rivers Flow
: For every great song, there's an equally unimpressive one, leaving the package faulty as a whole. Black Rivers Flow
is like that lovely old pooch you have living in the backyard. He can still charm you with his smile and antics, but at the same time, you know damn well he'll never be the guard dog you need (because you happen to live in the ghetto, that’s why). So you keep him around, let him amuse you and brighten your day (even if it’s only by a little), but eventually, you're still going to acquire a guard dog, or an alarm system, or a gun. That’s how it is with Lazarus A.D., too. They are nice guys and they play nice music, but if they wish to stand out from the crowd, they need to step up their game from here on, or we’re just going to end up acquiring something more serving that’ll make us forget about Black Rivers Flow
- an album that is good for the occasional spin, but not much more. Lazarus A.D. have a decent foundation, now it is time for them to build upon it.